What Is the Difference Between No Contact Order & Restraining Order?

By Lynne Haley Rose
Court orders can lock out danger.

Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Jesse Yardley

A no-contact order and a restraining order are court documents that provide protection to people who are in dangerous situations. However, there are differences in the way the two orders function.

Origins

The judge in a criminal case automatically issues a no-contact order as a condition of the defendant's bond. A judge in a civil case may issue a restraining order in response to a plaintiff's petition.

Time Frame

A no-contact order normally remains in effect until the conclusion of a criminal case; a judge decides the term of a restraining order.

Features

The intent of both orders is to protect a victim. They both prohibit the subject of the order from having physical contact with the victim, from harassing the victim and from threatening the victim.

Consequences

If a defendant released on bond violates a no-contact order, the judge may order the defendant's return to jail. If the subject of a restraining order violates it, the plaintiff can notify law enforcement and have the violator arrested.

Further Consideration

In a divorce case, a restraining order can prevent a spouse from disposing of community property until the dispute is settled.

About the Author

I have an MFA degree in Creative Writing and am a published poet who has received several poetry awards. I have established a reputation as an environmental activist, both through the group I co-founded -- see alternativeone.org -- and through a series of op-ed pieces in Montana newspapers. I have written extensively on alternative energy, recycling and endangered species.

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